Insects and grubs are popular and normal food in many countries around the world. I remember a trip to South Korea when we took a ferry to an island and upon disembarking, there was this pungent odor in the air. Was I the only one who noticed it, because it did not appear to grab anyone else’s attention. As we walked through the streets, the smell became stronger and stronger, so I knew we were on the right track to finding the source of the scent. And then there they were – the moment my eyes met my sense of smell as I stared into a big basket of steamed grubs.
I asked our tour guide if that was what I thought they were, and she laughed and said yes, let’s buy some so you can try it. They are very popular in the bars, because they go so well with drinks. Okay, well, I guess I’m not that adventuresome, but if you are, here are some of the top buggy wormy things to eat around the globe.
Africa: Stink Bugs
Believe it or not, stink bugs actually resemble the flavor of apples. They are either eaten straight as a snack or used as a flavoring for things like stew. In both cases, they are boiled, and it is during that cooking process that they release their stinkiness as a survival tactic. Oh, well… good try little bugs.
Australia: Witchetty Grubs
The outback delicacies are part of the bushmeat family. Some like it raw – tasting like almonds, and some like it cooked – coming out tasting like roasted chicken. The innards? Well, they look like scrambled eggs. Need we go on?
Cambodia: Fried Spiders
Why are so many bugs in Asia so big? Much like the grasshopper, these big spiders have more meat than the grasshopper and comes with a surprise when you bite into it (much like the grasshopper) – a brown sludge consisting of eggs, excrement, and innards. Please, pass me a bowl. It is usually marinated in sugar, salt and MSG and then fried with garlic. Okay, that part sounds good, actually.
Japan: Wasp Crackers
Just what you’d expect, these are crackers with wasps rolled into them before they are baked. Or imagine a chocolate chip cookie, except the chocolate chips are wasps. These wasps have a powerful sting, so we can only hope they’ve been de-stingered before they were baked into your cracker.
Mexico: Insect Caviar
In Mexico they call it escamol – insect caviar. It is made from the pupae of ants and edible larvae that is harvested from the mescal or tequila plant. The flavor is described as nutty and buttery with the texture of cottage cheese. Mmm mmm good.
South Korea: Silk Worms
Not just for clothing, Beondegi, also known as silk worms, are a very popular snack in South Korea. They boil them, steam them, and season them. You can find them in bars, from street vendors, pretty much anywhere in the country. The flavor is a lot like wood we are told. Wood. When’s the last time you had a craving for wood?
Southeast Asia: Sago Delight
This grub is versatile enough to be eaten cooked or raw. Cooked it is said to taste much like bacon, raw… well, it has a creamy texture – what else? Like other Asian grub delights, it is usually seasoned and cooked to add to the flavor of the dish.
Southern Africa: Mopane Worms
According to reports from those who have tried it, Mopand Worms taste a lot like barbecued chicken. They are big and juicy – a big ol’ chunk of meat – and are usually smoked or dried and then rehydrated and cooked with either chili or tomato sauce.
Imagine a big – and we do mean big – grasshopper seasoned with salt, pepper powder, and chili then fried in a big wok. Tastes kind of like hollow popcorn skin, except for the fact that when you bite into it, a little juice squirts out of the body. Gulp. Ask for Jing Leed to experience this “hoppy” food.